Box Office ‘Terminator:’ Arnold, Machines Rise To Beat ‘Blonde’

Resuscitated franchise is tops with moviegoers but falls short of industry projections.

When “Judgment Day” finally arrived for Arnold Schwarzenegger’s resuscitated “Terminator” franchise, moviegoers managed to place “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines” atop the box-office heap, though its opening numbers fell short of most industry projections.

The first “Terminator” flick in 12 years, “T3″ took in $44 million over the weekend and $72.5 million since opening on Wednesday, according to studio estimates, enough to make it the second-best opening for an R-rated flick ever (behind “The Matrix Reloaded”‘s $91.2 million), though it fell far behind the totals of other five-day heavyweights like “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace” ($105.6 million), “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” ($102 million) and “Independence Day” ($96.1 million). With a production cost estimated at more than $170 million ($30 million of which reportedly went to Arnie), “T3″ still has a way to go before it makes a profit. (Click to see “T3″ photos. )

Meanwhile, Reese Witherspoon’s own sequel, “Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde,” slid in behind “T3″ with $22.9 million over the weekend, for a five-day $39.1 million total. (Click to see photos from the “Legally Blonde 2″ premiere. )Brad Pitt’s animated “Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas,” the only other new widely released picture, took in $10 million over the extended holiday weekend.

Last weekend’s #1 film, “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle,” fell to #3 with $14.2 million for a two-week $67.2 million total. The rest of the weekend’s top 10 includes “Finding Nemo” at #4 with $11 million ($264.9 million, six weeks); “The Hulk” at #5 with $8.2 million ($117 million, three weeks); “28 Days Later” at #7 with $6 million ($20.6 million, two weeks); “The Italian Job” at #8 with $4.2 million ($84 million, six weeks); “Bruce Almighty” at #9 with $4 million ($228.7 million, seven weeks); and “2 Fast 2 Furious” at #10 with $2.4 million ($119.3 million, five weeks).